Healing Herbs International
by globalfamily – Mar 31, 2016
Healing Herbs International is a program founded by Global Family Farms to increase transparency, equity, and sustainability in the global herb trade. Every year an increasing number of consumers are turning to ancient wisdom and traditional systems of natural medicine to heal the ailments of modern day society. While this is a positive trend in health, the increasing demand for pure, high-quality herbs has created some complexities in the herb trade.
Most of the world’s supply of herbs and spices are still grown by small farmers in places like India and Nepal. A wide variety of plant medicines are native to this region of the world, such as the increasingly popular ashwagandha. These pristine areas provide an ideal climate in which cultivation is supported by nature.
However, most of these farmers live in rural villages, far from city centers. They lack the transportation and infrastructure needed to take their goods to market. As a result, exploitative middlemen have made a lucrative business of traveling to villages and purchasing herbs from farmers at prices that equate to highway robbery.
Farmers are in an increasingly difficult position. They need to sell their herbs in order to provide for their families and keep food on the table, but they lack access to the modern distribution systems necessary to get a fair and humane price for their goods. Low prices and increasing demand for herbs have pressured farmers to find ways of increasing their supply without increasing their financial inputs. As a result, many farmers turn to wild harvesting from surrounding forests, without moderation or the technical knowledge of how to do so sustainably. This has already caused massive amounts of deforestation and the endangerment of plant species from over-harvesting.
Healing Herbs International offers real and practical solutions. We exist in order to:
- Maintain a high-quality supply of herbs for conscious consumers and health enthusiasts
- Prevent deforestation and endangerment of plant species
- Eliminate exploitative middlemen and provide financial stability to farmers
To accomplish these goals, we’ve developed a four part procurement system:
- Training farmers in organic, regenerative agriculture in a cooperative-based setting
- Wild-harvesting in accordance with international standards for sustainable harvesting, in community forests that are certified organic
- Creating a buy-back model where Global Family Farms provides seed, training, and organic certification to farm owners, and also guarantees them fair market value for their herbs
- Utilizing Silva culture: the rootstock of the wild plant is divided in the forest and replanted in its native habitat, thereby multiplying the number of plants in the forest while harvesting
We go beyond fair-trade
In addition to providing premium, stable prices in a volatile market, Healing Herbs International:
- Helps organize cooperatives for collective bargaining
- Provides training in sustainable agriculture and financial management
- Offers holistic wellness programs in the culture of origin such as yoga and meditation
Our first Healing Herbs project was founded in Nepal. We have plans to continue growing with projects in Peru, Bolivia, and Turkey, just to name a few. It is our vital mission to provide sources of high quality, socially responsible, and environmentally sustainable herbs, spices, and exotic superfoods.